Growing up can be traumatic, to say the least. And from issues at home, drama with friends, or personal secrets, students sometimes confide in those closest to them. And other times they may hear things that they weren't necessarily supposed to, but shock them nonetheless.
People share the most depressing, disturbing, and ridiculous things they've heard, read, and witnessed happen to a student, fellow classmate or someone they knew in school. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"When I was in the seventh grade, I sat next to a kid in my English class who didn't have any friends and wouldn't talk to anyone who tried. He got back a paper with a D on it and the teacher had written some questions on the paper about whether he'd had trouble with the assignment (I don't remember exactly). Underneath her question, he wrote 'Because I am stupid and useless,' and at the end of the class, he walked by her desk and put it in the pile. When she looked at it, I thought she was going to start crying.
I always wondered what his family was like that he wouldn't talk to anyone, and thought about himself that way. Never did find out. One day he just wasn't in school anymore."
"I was staying after with a friend in Geometry and her teacher couldn't understand why she had really bad habits of falling behind on work, so she explained that she had to get 'homeschooled' from fourth to sixth grade when really she was taking care of her little brother cause her parents are addicts, and never had a support system to help her build good foundations for staying on track. Her teacher cried in front of us, but luckily, her dad's been clean three years, and her mom six months now."
"When I was in the seventh grade, a kid in my roll call came in upset one Monday. Wednesdays were our sports days, and we were only allowed to wear our sports uniform on that day. Anyway, he came into roll call in his sports uniform on a Monday and the teacher asked him why he was in sports uniform and said she would have to tag him (basically our school's version of dress-coding). He started to cry and said that his mum had one too many drinks and burnt his normal uniform and then threw the burning clothes at him and tried to set him on fire. The Department of Child Services were called and the kid was taken to safety, but in that moment, I felt so sad for him."
"In 10th grade, I was in a Computer Animation class that was generally considered a major blow off class due to the teacher really not caring. We were assigned our own individual projects, and most of the class didn't really put too much effort into it.
There was one girl in our class that was autistic, somewhat quiet and reserved, but spoke up when she needed to. While this project was assigned, she would constantly get up and ask our teacher for help, but our teacher would always send her to another student since she couldn't be asked to walk over and help her every single time she needed it. The student that she sent her to did help her quite a lot, but it was apparent that he got a bit frustrated as well, which was understandable considering she would ask for help every five or so minutes.
This went on for a couple of weeks, until one day... I'm not sure if she felt embarrassed for having to ask for help so much or if the guy stopped helping her, but one day we were all working/goofing off when she suddenly burst into tears. I sat right in front of her, so I was one of the few people to notice it first. As she's sitting there bawling, wiping her tears off her face, she says, 'I'm sorry, it's just-I just have this thing inside me and I just- I just wish it would go away. I just want to be NORMAL!'
There was such frustration in her voice, which was quite noticeable since she always talked in a somewhat timid manner, and it made the whole thing that much more heartbreaking to hear. There were some kids that were pretty ignorant and snickering the whole time, but I just sat there feeling pretty depressed for the rest of the class after witnessing that. Just thinking about it makes me sad."
"I heard about this girl, Sally. One day she came home SOBBING and telling her mom she needed new shoes. It was the beginning of the year, and she had just gotten new shoes, so her mom was confused. Turns out they had had an active shooter drill that day, and Sally realized you could see her new light up shoes in the dark. She told her mom, 'I'm going to get my friends killed.' She was 7 years old when this happened."
"I teach pretty much exclusively college freshmen, and by that point they all have that fatalistic sense of humor anyway, but it gets real sad when they get to the end of their rope. In my vast experience as a teacher, there have been many students telling themselves things like, 'Why did I think I could make it in college? I’m too stupid for this, I should drop out!'
And they actually mean it. Horrible stuff like that.
Monday however, a student asked to talk to me before class and said, 'I know this paper is important and all, and I don’t want you to hate me, but I couldn’t get my paper done.'
And I’m used to this sort of thing, I mean, it’s just natural, but then he takes a deep breath and blurts out, 'My dad called me last night and told me he was leaving my mom and moving away, so he’s leaving me too and I just couldn’t deal with it, I’m really sorry if you’re mad at me.'
It just hits me hard when they have to deal with more than they should, and on top of that they think I’ve formed a personal opinion of them and that I’m going to think badly of them based on something like this."
"This is about one of my close friends. I've known her since the start of high school.
She never realized her home life was as bad as it was.
She spoke about her mum neglecting her while their fourteen foster cats (that they could barely afford to feed) were spoiled rotten, and how she had to eat the same thing every night, and her only meal for the day started to make her nauseous.
The real kicker is that her mother got cancer, and as soon as she died, she said, 'I'm so glad she's dead. I wish she'd died sooner.' She was 16 years old when her mother died, and she's 18 now.
She's never going to leave those horrible scars, and the things she tells me about are horrifying.
But she lives with her dad now and has a proper home, regular good meals, etc. I have no idea how her dad didn't get custody when she was a child. He's an amazing dad to her and would probably do anything to help her more."
"My school had this event called the 'Olympic Games' where all the different grades compete against different classes of the same grade.
This one poor boy was the most uncoordinated little dude I've ever seen, but man, did he try his little heart out. I mean, we're talking about a kid who tripped over his own feet three times during the race, but picked himself up each time and kept going. All the other kids in his class kept cheering him on, even though he was about thirty seconds behind the next closest person in a race meant to take about two minutes.
Some of the other volunteers and I decided to give this kid one of the medals anyways; like, I know adults who would've slunk away after the second time, but he kept going.
So when we're handing out medals, one of the volunteers announces that for dedication and perseverance, this kid was getting a medal as well.
The kid -who'd been so busy congratulating the winners, it took him a minute to realize we'd called his name -takes his medal and runs over to his folks, beaming, showing off his medal.
I don't know what was said; I was too far away to hear. But I saw the anger in his dad's face, and a few minutes later, the kid came walking back over, head hanging, and announced loudly, sounding like he was crying, that he didn't deserve a medal, because he'd done so bad, and come in last.
The volunteers and his classmates all started telling him he did deserve it, that he'd done well. In a rush, or panic, the boy shoved the medal at a volunteer, babbling about how he didn't deserve it, he'd been clumsy, and done awful. Finally, the volunteer -not knowing what else to do -awkwardly took the medal back.
I look over at the kid's parents. The mom looks about in tears, but his freaking dad is just nodding in satisfaction, a smirk on his face."
"I was in high school, heard a girl (who was 17 years old) say, 'He made me get off four times!'
Her friend responded, 'Yeah, but isn't he like ten years older than you?'
She replied, '15, actually. He's the one subbing for (insert my teacher here) while she's on maternity leave.'
I was walking right behind them the entire way to my class, and had to hear every detail of the intimate relationship between my substitute teacher and a girl my age before walking into the class he taught. He was always really nice to me, and after that I couldn't make eye contact with him the rest of the year.
It was revealed later that he was in a relationship with four girls at our school, the youngest only 16 years and oldest eighteen, and is in jail now.
We are all in our early 20s now and the girls are doing pretty well. One of them actually just got married, and when the news broke no one in our high school blamed or judged them, which was really nice to see. Also, for more info, only one of the girls was 18 then."
"Way back in the fifth grade or so, I discovered a glorious Pokemon themed chat room through the wonders of Yahoo. Within this chat room, there were maybe 15 regulars, generally between the ages of 12 and 16 or so, and we had a great time role playing various anime characters and storylines.
Anyway, I got to know a few people from there well enough to chat with them on AIM or by phone and a few of those friendships lasted a good four or five years. One of these guys was a little eccentric- he LOVED creature/monster models and stories, stuff like Godzilla, Spawn, whatever. He believed in things like chupacabras, which I thought was silly, but didn't really care, and he lived out in the boonies in some midwestern state (which all seemed like hick-land, to my young, west coast mind). After getting to know him pretty well and having a good 100 hours of phone conversations over the years, he finally revealed this lovely story.
He told me that sometimes he would black out and wake up to discover that he had, or was still in the process of, hurting or torturing animals and children. He had quite a few cousins and neighbor kids who lived nearby, and apparently had killed some animals. When he revealed this to me, I felt sick inside- I love animals, and this information chilled me to the bone. It was really hard for him to tell me this and he confided that I was one of the only people he had ever been able to tell. Then, it got weirder.
Some one in his family, or maybe a family friend, decided that he must be possessed by a demon, and that they had to perform an exorcism. They did it at night (of course) in a dark room lit by candles, and tied him to the bed because they didn't know how the demon would react. He described a pretty creepy process, but the worst part was the end: he said they heard something hit the floor under the bed when the 'demon' left his body, and then something scrambled across the floor and out of the room in the darkness, leaving claw marks in the wood floor.
He was totally and completely serious about this, and how it cured him and he didn't hurt things any more. I, as any sane person would do, noped right the heck out of that situation."
"There was a fat kid in my class who was legitimately hilarious. He had perfect comedic timing and could always make everyone (including admin) laugh. A lot of students can make other students laugh with juvenile humor, but this kid was telling jokes that were funny enough to make adults laugh.
He was well liked by everyone. Excelled in every other class and every hobby he pursued.
One day he just randomly mentioned how maybe we shouldn't try so hard for the college stuff because he probably wouldn't be around that long anyways. I immediately was like, 'Wait, what?' and had him explain. He not only was aware that his weight was a hindrance to his life span, but he had such low self esteem he was suicidal.
This class comedian was super broken mentally and absolutely hated himself. He wore the facade of a happy go lucky guy but deep down inside he was super sad."
"My mother was a teacher for nearly thirty years. She spent the last ten years at a middle school that was pretty hard up in the Tulsa public school system. She had a very good student who came to school every day in the same clothing. We can call him 'J'. The clothing was always washed, but even so around halfway through the year, his clothing was becoming tattered and stained. The other students began to notice and make comments. The school tried to give him clothing, but he refused. He would not except a hand out. A few teachers came up with a plan for the school put on a contest where the winner was given some new, very nice, school clothing. This contest was set up for J to win. This way he could have new clothing and not feel as though he was given anything.
J won the contest. He accepted the new clothing gladly. The next day he was still wearing his old clothes. My mom asked him why he was not wearing the new clothing. 'Those are my trophies. I have them hanging on my wall,' he stated.
It rips my heart right out of my chest."
"We were making resumes in my 7th grade class and discussing community service. Omar asks, 'Mister, what if the judge orders you to community service, can you list that?' No Omar, if you're being ordered to community service, you might not need a resume for the jobs you will be able to get.
But then it got worse when a girl said 'But everyone goes to jail once?' Um, NO! She then replied 'Juvie?' Once again: NO!"
"In 6th grade, I was walking alone down the hallway to my class from lunch, and there were these two girls who I was familiar with. It was sorta crowded, so I guess they wouldn't be too abrasive as one of them loudly says, 'I freaking hate Mr. (My social science teacher, who is 61), I hope he gets shot in the face.'
That legit broke me for a very good reason.
The girl who said that never, EVER came to class. She always hid in like the bathroom or something. But everyone who's been taught by (Let's call him Mr. Soupy) knows that his family has history of fighting for the country. His father was in the Air Force, and he was a Marine for about eight years. His son was in the military (he had him when he was 21 and the mom was eighteen) but he's been open about the really sad fate of his son.
He was shot in the face by an armed startled recruit in the middle of the night when he was walking through their base."
"We were in 4th grade. I always carried a spare hoodie to class. And this one girl didn't have a hoodie and it was snowing outside (rare thing in Texas) so I gave her the thicker one I was wearing and wore the hoodie (I lived down the street from school, wasn't that much of a walk, but I know she lived pretty far away) so she wouldn't freeze to death. 'Wow, I don't get why you did this, no one ever does stuff like this for me. Thanks,' she said.
She tried to give it back the next day but I let her keep it. Now it's 8th grade and I saw her wearing it yesterday. I asked about it and she said it was the only one she had. I can't believe her parents haven't gotten her a freakin jacket in 4 years and it can be 30°F outside sometimes. If you're wondering how something in 4th grade fit her in 8th, she is and always has been a very skinny girl. I have always been chunky and loved oversized shirts so in 4th grade, she was swimming in it, now it fits her decently."
"I ran holiday science workshops, filled with brainy kids as you'd expect. There was an 11 year old girl who was brilliant at everything, the content was clearly beneath her. Very quiet, respectful, well liked by the other kids. Her parents were moving soon because she received scholarships to a prestigious school. Whenever her dad came to pick her up, he was obviously proud, telling me about all her achievements, how she was in advanced classes, just won all these sports awards too, etc. Showed videos and photos of her winning all these soccer games.
They enrolled her younger brother in similar sessions. He gave it a go in the first few but really struggled, always the last to finish and felt his work didn't look as good as the others. Looked embarrassed to ask for help. He screamed at his sister when she tried to fix his circuit. Eventually he just began acting out, putting off the work, challenging me to get a laugh out of the other kids, messing around. After a disastrous month, he stopped trying altogether.
He just came in one afternoon and sat there, not doing anything. I tried to engage him in the activity and said if he didn't like what the other kids are doing, we could pick anything else he wanted to do. He said something like, 'What's the point. My parents will never love me as much as they love my sister.'"
"'Ms. Spidey, do you know how to get [local electric company] to turn your power back on? I get paid today, but they pay me on a card, so do I get out cash and get a money order, and where do I take it to?'
This kid was sixteen. But this kid got their power turned back on that day, all by themselves. I didn't do spit or biscuits but teach them how to talk to people in call centers and make the introduction to the CSR.
And then later on, their power bill got reduced, because the school social worker has programs for that sort of thing, the local power company sent them some energy-saving free stuff, including some light bulbs (kid and their siblings had been short some lights at home for a while), and we got their water and sewer discounted as well. The school social worker is a hero. Their surviving parent was trying, it's just hard with a parent of their own who isn't well, with that many kids and two fast-food jobs.
This kid is in college now. He received almost an entire full ride. He commutes from home to save money, puts their housing stipend towards the family rent, utilities and gas for their own old Toyota. Their parent looks like they just took their first breath in ten years. I'm proud of all my students, but especially that one."
"I was a senior mentor at a free youth summer camp, where kids would come from all over the province to attend for various periods of time. The kids I mentored were there for 3 full weeks away from home.
As the kids were being brought in, we would do a 'kit inspection,' looking for things like illegal substances and weapons, etc. One girl that came in had her bags inspected by myself, and I found tons of things that we didn't typically allow like lighters, scissors, a pocket knife, and some pretty mundane things that could be used as weapons. But she also had a plate, bowl, eating utensils, and some common household items that were not necessary to bring to camp.
So I asked her why she packed all this stuff and she said she was in between homes in the foster system and that if she didn't bring everything she owned to camp with her, it would have been thrown out. She was only 13 and she had to carry her entire life with her to camp that summer."
"I had a student that frequently lingered in my classroom after school. She often looked ill and was always very weird. One day she opened up to me and said that her mother and her live-in boyfriend shot up every night. I told my principal after she spoke to me and she informed that CPS was already involved. A few days later the same girl told me that her mom and boyfriend would shoot her up too and tell her that she couldn’t tell anyone they were still doing it because she would get in trouble for doing it too. She asked me to keep it a secret (which I obviously couldn’t) because she was worried she’d get arrested for substance use.
She no longer lives at home thankfully."
"I used to teach at an alternative high school. So a lot of my students were kids on probation, and a lot of the kids were from areas with a lot of gang violence. So, many of them had issues related to the fact that they were born addicted- That kind of thing.
I had a student who I had worked hard with to build a good rapport. One Friday, he looked me in the eyes and told me, completely calmly, that I shouldn't come to work on Monday. He kept telling me that he didn't want me to be there Monday. When I finally pressed him for why I should not come to work Monday, he told me that he was going to 'blow this place up.'
I said, 'You know I need to report this, right?' He told me to do what I had to do. He was arrested right out of my classroom and I had to be interviewed by the police.
It was honestly really traumatic. I ended up calling out Monday, even though I knew nothing was going to happen because my anxiety went through the roof. I called out a lot after that and found a new job shortly after. But I still have a great deal of compassion for that student. I think about him often. I hope he's okay.
"One of my students who was always in a good mood came into the class looking very down. She was not acting her usual self. I had to get onto her several times for being on her phone (again, very unlike her). She asked if she could speak to me in the hallway.
Kid: 'I’m sorry for being in such a bad mood today. Can I tell you why?'
Me: 'Of course.'
Kid: -proceeds to take her cardigan off (she had a tank top on underneath) and showed me welts that she had gotten the night before from her mother beating her with an electric cord- She says, 'My mother beat me for no reason last night and I don’t know what to do.'
Sadly, it was not the first time I had to report.
The abuse had been going on for a while. She was an only child. I taught high school freshman, so she was 14. The day after she told me, she came to my classroom during my conference period and hugged me for a very long time.
Thankfully, after it all, she got to move with her father (a MUCH better situation) who lived about an hour and a half away. She was able to finish the school year with us (her dad would drive her that long distance every morning!) and the next school year, she started at her new school."
"I’ve had a lot, but one morning two students came in early to my room and asked if they could use my student computer. I said sure, and figured that they just needed to finish a project and knew I always got to school early. Nope. It turns out that their best friend was murdered two days before because he wouldn’t give the money he earned to someone trying to rob him. His family needed the money to not be homeless, so he died trying to look out for his family (and for like $80 or something).
My students were creating flyers and a gofundme so they could try to help the parents not be homeless, as well as to afford a funeral. To make matters worse, the kid was murdered on a Saturday. He was left to bleed out and die, to be found the next morning. The actual murderer CAME TO MY SCHOOL on Monday as if nothing had happened. The cops pulled him out of the class in the middle of the day once they had figured out it was him."